With multiple sources suggesting that the online tyre business broke new ground during 2020, but with data illustrating that trend less easy to come by, Tyres & Accessories caught up with Micheldever Tyre Services (MTS) wholesale director Graham Mitchell in order to get a leading tyre wholesaler’s perspective. Starting by setting the company’s recent online tyre business performance into the context of its recent history, our interview looks to the future of the online tyre business and touches on the importance of search engine marketing in the tyre trade.
The complexity of the UK tyre wholesale sector has certainly ramped up considerably thanks to what may be termed an almost perfect storm of external factors relating both to the Covid pandemic and Brexit. With retail margins on consumer tyres already very fine, the wholesale sector has been key in keeping price increases under control, especially considering the spiralling cost of shipping. But as those in the sector know, the value wholesalers add within the distribution chain is a considerably wider subject than purely price. Arguably, the service dimension has never been more important than in the last 18 months, as retail businesses adapted to a market transformed by externalities. Tyres & Accessories asked Graham Mitchell, Micheldever Tyre Services wholesale director, about how the business is faring in 2021, starting with its performance this year.
80 guests became the first European customers to test drive the new GT Radial SportActive 2 and FE2 at GT Radial’s first Mira Drive and Ride event for almost two years. Potential new dealers, supported by select GT Radial Performance Centre (GTPC) owners, got back on track under Covid secure conditions over two days, during which GT Radial’s exclusive UK distributor over the last decade, Micheldever Tyre Services (MTS), presented the brand’s product portfolio. All attendees were invited to experience high speed circuits in the new BMW 5 Series of Giti Tire’s country manager – UK, Brian McDermott who put his own car on the redline.
Micheldever Tyre Service’s wholesale team covered almost 2000km by foot and bike in raising £11,000 for men’s health charities in November. The 28-strong team is sending the funs to organisations involved in providing support and raising awareness for prostate and testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention. Various team members also sported newly grown moustaches for “Movember”. Readers can find the MTS team fundraising page here.
A couple of weeks after the end of the UK’s second lockdown, Tyres & Accessories spoke with Micheldever Tyre Services wholesale director Graham Mitchell. Since Mitchell was part of the panel in our inaugural “Kickstarting your tyre business” webinar in May 2020 at the end of the first lockdown, we thought it would be good to catch up at the end of the year and compare the differences between the first and second lockdowns. In short, while many shops closed during the first lockdown, the vast majority were open for business during the second. We also discussed 2020 as a whole and looked forward to 2021.
There have been serious challenges to tyre distribution in 2020, and while demand has returned with the end of the national lockdown, Covid-19’s autumn rise means the spectre of spring’s market conditions looms over the winter months. This year, companies have needed to manage the operational problems posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns throughout Europe; they also needed to weigh up wildly fluctuating supply and demand. Whether there is a return to a concerted national effort similar to the UK’s actions in April and May or not, the lessons learned during this period continue to prove relevant. Meanwhile, the sector was already experiencing difficult times prior to the outbreak, with European tyre market demand flat overall in the light vehicle sector – a situation that certainly deteriorated in the pandemic. For the October magazine’s wholesale feature, Tyres & Accessories spoke to a range of players in the wholesale sector in Western Europe to look at the lessons of this year, and how recovery is progressing. We start with Micheldever Tyre Services, a leading UK player in the light vehicle tyre market especially, which has experienced a “strong” return of demand in the second half of the year, according to wholesale director Graham Mitchell.
With the VW Fun Cup 2020 season ready to commence its reduced calendar of five rounds, Giti Tire has confirmed that it is maintaining its position as Official Tyre Partner. The tyre manufacturer will also participate, racing its fully livered GT Radial car. Ellis Hadley, senior test engineer at Giti Tire, will line-up on the grid alongside seasoned racing enthusiasts from the GT Radial Performance Centre (GTPC) network. The VW Fun Cup will start with a One Hour Sprint Race and a Four Hour Endurance Race on 8 August at Snetterton, before hitting Thruxton, Silverstone and the season finale at Oulton Park on 17 October. All cars in the competition run on GitiCompete GTR2 tyres.
Tyre distributors from across the country have come together to support the restarting of the tyre trade. Large and small retailers from St Helens to the South East worked together to produce the inaugural Tyrepress webinar entitled “Kick-starting your tyre business’.
Winchester-based Micheldever Tyre Services – which has established a wholesale distribution network of 15 sites around the country, supplying over 6,000 retailers nationwide – will stock a large selection of BFGoodrich’s All Terrain T/A KO2 and Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 ranges, helping to ensure excellent product availability throughout the year.
Micheldever Tyre Services (MTS) has appointed Graham Mitchell as its new wholesale director. Mitchell will take over the key strategic role following Alan Baldwin’s retirement, scheduled for November. In a 17-year career in the tyre industry, Mitchell has acquired extensive experience across both UK and European markets. He joins MTS from Cooper Tire, where he held senior management roles that included sales director for UK and Western Europe and UK and Northern Europe sales director.
After a one-year gap Bandvulc recently held its Key Partner Conference for its dealer network at the prestigious Midland Hotel in Manchester. Famous for a particular historical partnership, the Midland was where Messrs. Rolls and Royce met and agreed to form their company. The conference theme was: Partnerships, loyalty and recognising customers. Company representatives explained that this year’s conference was designed to inform the network of Bandvulc’s performance amongst other things.
Bandvulc Group has appointed Graham Mitchell as Bandvulc Plus+ commercial director. This means Mitchell will work on all aspects of BV Plus+ in order to review and enhance its activities. He joins Bandvulc from Cooper Tire, where he was responsible for European sales.